Can industry reshape its own education?


Talent development is crucial to ensuring the infrastructure industry can sustainably meet the unprecedented challenges the world expects it to meet in the decades ahead. We speak with Michael Broadley (MB), the new General Manager of FIDIC Academy about how crucial it is for firms to engage in building best-in-class learning platforms now. 

IG: FIDIC Academy is renowned for its industry education in contract management. How important is the mission to expand this into wider business training for the industry?

MB: I’ve spent the last fifteen years in education management and curriculum design and it is clear that online education for our industry has some gaps that need closing. For example, of around 20,000 online courses out there, only around fifty provide bespoke hybrid training built around the engineering professional’s business needs and many of these cover only specific areas.

That is a problem because talent development is so important to ensure not only that each business is successful, but that the industry as a whole is sustainable and can meet the needs of society. After all, infrastructure and talent development are all about legacy.

IG: So why now for this programme of change?

MB: The best education isn’t a one-way delivery of information. Interactive and bespoke learning is what really delivers and we see that with FIDIC’s Future Leaders Group where young professionals from around the world learn quickly from experienced professionals and from each other. We need to ensure education provision takes the same approach. We want to create a culture of continual improvement not only for those doing their professional development, but for FIDIC Academy itself and this is a critical time for the industry to get this right.

Online learning of this sort is growing fast and will soon be a £30bn industry – so there is clearly recognition that it holds value. Our job is to ensure our industry takes its chance to inform its direction while it grows. So, we commit to continuously measure the learning that the FIDIC Academy provides, using robust systems for accrediting trainers through FCL and undertaking peer reviews to create a culture of continual improvement of courses being provided.

Most importantly, we need the people and companies taking our courses to shape them. People are busy both at work and at home, so we must ensure that our courses provide best in class education and best in class methods. Otherwise, our industry risks losing good people by failing to maximise their potential.

IG: And how are you setting out on that programme of change?

MB: The mission of the FIDIC Academy is to be the world’s leading centre for contract and best business practice learning, and for development knowledge and activities within the consulting engineering industry. To do that we have been undertaking focus groups with professionals to build up a detailed understanding of what works best for learners. This has helped identify two trends already.

Thousands of online courses take the form of one-way delivery through video content, which is no longer sufficient. Universities don’t work that way and people want greater interaction and flexibility just like when they learn ‘in person’.

At the same time, learners are making it clear that traditional programmes of 40-hour courses are not suitable for online learning. That means we need to look at providing a suite of modules offering, for example, two hours on contracts, three hours on talent management, and so on.

What we need now is for industry to tell us clearly what needs to be learned so we can help fill the gaps that the wider professional education sector misses.

IG: Being an industry-led organisation, how can industry help lead the way right now?

MB: As part of the research and further development of its Academy, FIDIC is surveying its key stakeholders to gather intelligence on new subject area priorities and on how the education and training could be delivered.

Just like learning itself, we know this has to be kept as simple and time-efficient as possible so the survey has been designed to take just five minutes to complete – and the intelligence industry provides through that will be incorporated into our strategy for future course provision.

This is the opportunity for industry to truly shape its own education and we are grateful to the hundreds of companies and people who have engaged already. We need to hear from as wider group as possible though, to ensure we can be as comprehensive as industry needs.

You can provide your insights into the future needs of industry through the FIDIC Academy research survey by clicking here.